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Decree on Communion Under Both Species and the Communion of Infants

Decree on Communion Under Both Species and the Communion of Infants

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Published by Miguel Vas

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Published by: Miguel Vas on Dec 02, 2010
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The sacred and holy, oecumenical and general Synod of Trent,--lawfully assembled in theHoly Ghost, the same Legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein,-whereas, touching thetremendous and most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, there are in divers places, by the mostwicked artifices of the devil, spread abroad certain monstrous errors, by reason of which, insome provinces, many are seen to have departed from the faith and obedience of the CatholicChurch, It has thought fit, that what relates to communion under both species, and thecommunion of infants, be in this place set forth. Wherefore It forbids all the faithful in Christto presume henceforth to believe, teach, or preach otherwise on these matters, than is in thesedecrees explained and defined.CHAPTER I.That laymen and clerics, when not sacrifising, are not bound, of divine right, to communionunder both species.Wherefore, this holy Synod,--instructed by the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of godliness, and following the judgment and usageof the Church itself,--declares and teaches, that laymen, and clerics when not consecrating,are not obliged, by any divine precept, to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist under bothspecies; and that neither can it by any means be doubted, without injury to faith, thatcommunion under either species is sufficient for them unto salvation. For, although Christ,the Lord, in the last supper, instituted and delivered to the apostles, this venerable sacramentin the species of bread and wine; not therefore do that institution and delivery tend thereunto,that all the faithful of Church be bound, by the institution of the Lord, to receive both species.But neither is it rightly gathered, from that discourse which is in the sixth of John,-however according to the various interpretations of holy Fathers and Doctors it be understood,--thatthe communion of both species was enjoined by the Lord : for He who said; Except you eatthe flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you (v. 54), alsosaid; He that eateth this bread shall live for ever (v. 59); and He who said, He that eateth myflesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life (v. 55), also said; The bread that I will giveis my flesh for the life of the world (v. 52); and, in fine,- He who said; He that eateth my fleshand drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him (v. 57), said, nevertheless; He that eateththis bread shall live for ever (v. 59.)CHAPTER II.The power of the Church as regards the dispensation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.It furthermore declares, that this power has ever been in the Church, that, in the dispensationof the sacraments, their substance being untouched, it may ordain,--or change, what thingssoever it may judge most expedient, for the profit of those who receive, or for the venerationof the said sacraments, according to the difference of circumstances, times, and places. Andthis the Apostle seems not obscurely to have intimated, when he says; Let a man so accountof us, as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. And indeed itis sufficiently manifest that he himself exercised this power,- as in many other things, so inregard of this very sacrament; when, after having ordained certain things touching the usethereof, he says; The rest I will set in order when I come. Wherefore, holy Mother Church,knowing this her authority in the administration of the sacraments, although the use of both
species has,--from the beginning of the Christian religion, not been unfrequent, yet, in progress of time, that custom having been already very widely changed,--she, induced byweighty and just reasons,- has approved of this custom of communicating under one species,and decreed that it was to be held as a law; which it is not lawful to reprobate, or to change at plea sure, without the authority of the Church itself.CHAPTER III.That Christ whole and entire, and a true Sacrament are received under either species.It moreover declares, that although, as hath been already said, our Redeemer, in that lastsupper, instituted, and delivered to the apostles, this sacrament in two species, yet is to beacknowledged, that Christ whole and entire and a true sacrament are received under either species alone; and that therefore, as regards the fruit thereof, they, who receive one speciesalone, are not defrauded of any grace necessary to salvation.CHAPTER IV.That little Children are not bound to sacramental Communion.Finally, this same holy Synod teaches, that little children, who have not attained to the use of reason, are not by any necessity obliged to the sacramental communion of the Eucharist:forasmuch as, having been regenerated by the by the laver of baptism, and being incorporatedwith Christ, they cannot, at that age, lose the grace which they have already acquired of beingthe sons of God. Not therefore, however, is antiquity to be condemned, if, in some places, it,at one time, observed that custom; for as those most holy Fathers had a probable cause for what they did in respect of their times, so, assuredly, is it to be believed without controversy,that they did this without any necessity thereof unto salvation.ON COMMUNION UNDER BOTH SPECIES, AND ON THE COMMUNION OFINFANTSCANON I.--If any one saith, that, by the precept of God, or, by necessity of salvation, all andeach of the faithful of Christ ought to receive both species of the most holy sacrament notconsecrating; let him be anathema.CANON 11.--if any one saith, that the holy Catholic Church was not induced, by just causesand reasons, to communicate, under the species of bread only, laymen, and also clerics whennot consecrating; let him be be anathema.CANON III.--If any one denieth, that Christ whole and entire -the fountain and author of allgraces--is received under the one species of bread; because that-as some falsely assert--He isnot received, according to the institution of Christ himself, under both species; let him beanathema.CANON IV.--If any one saith, that the communion of the Eucharist is necessary for littlechildren, before they have arrived at years of discretion; let him be anathema.As regards, however, those two articles, proposed on another occasion, but which have not asyet been discussed; to wit, whether the reasons by which the holy Catholic Church was led tocommunicate, under the one species of bread only, laymen, and also priests when notcelebrating, are in such wise to be adhered to, as that on no account is the use of the chalice to

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